With a slow but steady rain falling, the lawn at Tanglewood was sparsely populated, but inside the shed there were smiles all around as the Boston Symphony Orchestra celebrated the opening of its 2016 Tanglewood season last night. The beginning of the classical season is always festive, and for long-time concert-goers, it was a pleasure to see and hear violinist Joshua Bell, back for his 28th consecutive summer at Tanglewood since his debut there in 1989. Bell’s choice as soloist was Saint-Saëns’s gypsy influenced Violin Concerto No. 3. The sound of his Strad filled the shed with infectious rhythms and melodies.
Canadian conductor Jacques Lacombe may not be known for florid conducting, but his communication with the players resulted in a delightfully raucous and colorfully Spanish-flavored Alborada del gracioso, by Ravel, eight minutes of pure musical fireworks that delighted this listener, who has never lost his appreciation for the contrast of shimmering brass duking it out with pizzicato strings and doubled harps. What an uplifting racket!